Saturday, August 27, 2005

Get out of Iraq now?

True blue liberal here saying, nope. I don't think so. Just as withdrawal is not such a great birth control device, leaving just enough room for error (or little spermies) to penetrate and cause big (say, 9lbs, 14ozs) problems, leaving Iraq now leaves way too much room for error.

We've got to differentiate between whether or not the US should have gone to war in Iraq and whether or not we should leave Iraq now that we've blundered about for a year or two. I've spent lots of time bitching and moaning about us having gone to war in the first place. We shouldn't have. Bad decision made on bad information and multilayered lies. Bush sucks. Etc.

But we're there. So what do we do now?

I've been following a interesting back and forth on Democracy Arsenal between Heather Hurlburt and Michael Kraig. The notion that we will actually see a working cohesive single Iraqi government seems slippery and ephemeral on the best of days. The notion that the Middle East will survive warless with a confederated Iraq in its midst seems illusory, as well.

So what does the US do now? Juan Cole's oft quote blogpost Ten Things Congress Could Demand from Bush on Iraq assumes a cohesive single Iraqi government won't work, so provides a girder of US forces to prop it up until it can work on its own, while stategically withdrawing troops where troops are hurting us the most, with the goal being getting the US out of Iraq without civil war or major destabilization of the Middle East.

But I dunno. I know this guy knows a hell of a lot more than I'll ever forget about the Middle East. And I agree with much of what he says. For instance, Cole suggests that only Iraqi companies should be receiving reconstruction funds from the US (rather than Halliburton) to immediately revive the Iraq economy. That's a no brainer.

And the amnesty for all former Baath Party members is intriguing. Steve Clemons points out over at Talking Points Memo that the US did something similar to this in Japan after WWII.

But his plan regarding troop withdrawal still sounds like pie in the sky to me. Sure, he's not expecting the pie to float up there all by its lonesome. But it seems to me his plan has a lot of holes. For example, the US ground troops pull out of urban areas then out of Iraq in general, but would continue to provide air strike support against guerrillas. The theory is that the US sucks as a police force (adding to the general hatred against America), but could quell a civil war.

So the US troops can't keep the peace but we can force peace down guerrilla insurgent's throats? I think we're a bit past the point of remaking our image in this way. And I don't see how troops that can't quell small insurgencies will manage to quell big ones.

Over at the NY Times, another country was heard from: the oil-spot strategy. The basic idea is the US commits massive amounts of ground troops to make chosen areas safe, one strategic town at a time, rather than running insurgents down here and there. As areas are secured, the safe haven spreads.

Apparently, the problem with this approach (and the reason it hasn't been followed thus far) is that it requires a commitment of troops the US won't (or can't) make. And it makes that exit row look awfully far away, which is clearly not what the American people want.

My view? I'm not sure the US could make this work, even with a larger commitment of troops. It assumes that "the people" of Iraq can be persuaded to work together with us as one once they see what a big happy family we could all be if we do so. Isn't anyone else watching the Sunnis, Kurds, and Shiites working on the Constitution together? Happy family is so not happening there.

So what is the Liz T-G solution for this particular Middle East crisis of our own making, given that I'm rejecting solutions by far better minds than mine?
  • Set up a firm time-table for troop withdrawal, so that all involved are assured that the US is leaving.
  • Have our government make nice with all surrounding nations to keep the area as stable as possible.
  • Throw Halliburton out on its ear and rewrite the US law so that only Iraqi companies are getting reconstruction funds, thus throwing a bit of money in the coffers of a country we've maimed through this war.
  • Stop forcing Happy Family Country down Iraq's throat. Acknowledge its nature of confederation (if we're lucky) and do your best to write a Constitution that gives all involved the opportunity to choose something other than civil war when the US leaves.
Until tomorrow,


Blogger Jeff said...

Good blog. I've put it on my kinja list.

BTW, I found your blog when I searched the trackback for the brooks op/ed.

12:34 PM  
Blogger Liz T-G said...

Thanks, Jeff!

4:53 PM  

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